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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | WEST COUNTY / VENTURA

Dally Juror Is Asked About Note to Judge

March 25, 1998|RICHARD WARCHOL

Concern that jurors in the Michael Dally murder trial had improperly discussed the case are unfounded, Superior Court Judge Charles W. Campbell Jr. and attorneys for both sides agreed after a brief discussion Tuesday.

The question was raised last week after a juror passed a note to the judge asking whether panelists could use laptop computers during deliberations to organize witness testimony.

Although seemingly innocuous, the note raised questions as to whether the jury had discussed other issues in the trial, which is near its conclusion after the defense finished presenting its case last Thursday.

The juror, a man, was brought into court and asked to explain the request.

He said he and three or four other jurors had discussed how either laptop computers, or a printed form containing witness names, the dates they testified and three empty columns for juror notes could help the group sort through the 150 or so witnesses when deliberations begin.

The juror said the group did not discuss specific witnesses nor any other issues in the case.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed the printed forms could be useful to the jury and the judge agreed that they could be used.

However, Campbell said he still had security concerns over the use of personal laptop computers. He said he would research it and bring the matter back up again before the jury begins its deliberations.

Later Tuesday, the jury spent the day behind the closed doors of Courtroom 45 reviewing the numerous exhibits presented during testimony.

Closing arguments in the case are set to begin this morning.

Dally, 37, facing murder, kidnapping and conspiracy charges, is accused of planning to kill his wife, Sherri, with his former lover, Diana Haun.

Haun was convicted in the case last fall and is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

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